Bungled Attack on Billy Graham

October 2000

In the June 19 Banner, official publication of the Christian Reformed Church, Contributing Editor James C. Schaap picks a bone with Billy Graham about one of the ways today’s foremost Protestant evangelist has kept himself scandal-free: “Graham studiously avoids ever being in a room alone with any woman other than his wife. Not even female personal secretaries have occasion to take notes or review agendas without someone else present for the discussion.” A Catholic might say that Graham is avoiding “occasions of sin.”

Is Schaap nitpicking? He obviously doesn’t think so. He furrows his brow and worries that Graham’s “three-is-not-a-crowd rule of thumb” has kept him from “understanding something of the nature of temptation” and from “fully understanding his own humanness.” Would that fallen Catholic priests, religious, and bishops had observed some kind of three-is-not-a-crowd rule! It might have saved them, their victims (willing or unwilling), and the Bride of Christ incalculable suffering or shame or both.

Schaap asks if Graham “gives anything up by creating a workaday world in which he cannot be alone with a member of the opposite sex.” Schaap’s answer: “I think he does — intimacy.”

Anticipating incredulity on the part of his readers, Schaap quickly attempts to clarify: “But intimacy means more, surely, than sexuality.”

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New Oxford Notes: October 2000

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